What Is Agile Marketing?
Agile marketing is a collaborative marketing methodology centered on a set of principles promoting rapid adaptation to changing markets through fast-paced project “sprints,” short feedback loops, and transparent communication.
Agile prioritizes data-driven testing of campaign success (and failure) in cycles that allow teams to respond intelligently to new developments in the field and limit unnecessary work.
With that definition in mind, let’s explore a few details.
What makes an agile marketing team so… “agile”?
I’m going to borrow here from some terminology used in this fantastic video created by Henrik Kniberg about agile product ownership. He discusses three key requirements of agile development that we can apply to agile marketing:
- Doing it fast,
- Doing it right, and
- Doing the right thing.
These are really broad ideas, but it’s in their interactions that they become relevant to agile teams, both in development and in marketing.
I like to think about these concepts alongside the build-measure-learn cycle, which Jonathan Colman discusses in a Friday Whiteboard session from Moz. In an ideal situation, an agile team is fulfilling the three key requirements above by completing iterations of this cycle (1) quickly (2) to consistently increase the quality of their output and (3) continuously update critical goals and methods.
1. Agile marketing teams move quickly.
Agile marketers work in sprints, short periods of intense work that allow teams to output many small-scale initiatives for testing, rather than pouring resources into one larger project.
Traditional top-down, or “waterfall” approaches to marketing move slowly. Long-term marketing initiatives planned far in advance can have a major impact, but they also require a large amount of upfront time investment before you see a return. As the pace of innovation increases, we are all becoming more familiar with the pitfalls of slower strategies.
By the time an initiative is released, changes in the technology (e.g. the new Instagram feed) or in the user’s interests may very well mean that large amounts of work investments have been poured into efforts that have since become outdated.
Looks nice, but maybe you should try something new?
By contrast, the length of an agile sprint generally varies from just a few days to a few weeks. The point is to release smaller initiatives in quick succession so that you can use the information from one release to plan and adapt for the next.
A central tenant of the agile philosophy is putting the user first. Quick output means that your initiatives are very sensitive to current markets, and that you are able glean data about user outcomes much more frequently. This allows your team to repeat successes and learn from failures on a small scale, gradually improving your initiatives to fit your user’s up-to-date interests.
2. Agile marketing teams improve quality by using short feedback loops.
In order for an agile approach to be successful, teams need short feedback loops that allow them to acquire knowledge quickly. With a consistent influx of new information, teams are able to more accurately determine the components that make up a successful initiative.
When crafting a marketing initiative, the goal is to lead a successful, well-constructed campaign every time, right? Well, in order to build any campaign successfully, we need to have up-to-date information about what works for our audience and the current state of the market.
The paradox, of course, is that in order to have that information, we have to first run testable campaigns. At the beginning of any project, we inevitably know very little, so the first goal is to learn as much as we can, as fast as we can. We then use that information to streamline our initiatives to generate the most success.
A strength of agile teams is that they are able to acquire knowledge about quality very quickly by taking small chances, making small mistakes, and learning from each experiment.
(Image via YouPinspireMe.ca)
Andrea Fryrear explains how this principle applies to content marketing specifically, in her article about how agile marketers work smarter (not harder):
While it’s important for modern marketing teams to respond to market changes in as close to real time as possible, we must balance that need for speed with audience expectations for quality, relevance, and meaning in our content.
This balance between speed and quality relies on data-driven measurement to inform the development of each new initiative. The constant stream of incoming data allows teams to adapt quickly to new technologies and shifting markets and use those changes to their advantage.
The buzzword you’re looking for here is “responsive.”
3. Transparent communication is a prerequisite for success in agile marketing.
Successful agile teams are not only interested in doing the best work, they’re also interested in doing the right work (and only the right work). In order to be efficient, it is essential for teams to constantly update their overall goals and strategies.
A perfectly crafted campaign isn’t worth anything if it isn’t tailored to fit the right audience or doesn’t generate the right leads. In order to stay on top of big-picture priorities, there needs to be an active, transparent network of communication between team members, business owners, and even customers.
Agile teams are generally self-organizing and cross-functional, meaning that they stress non-hierarchical communication between individuals who serve different functions within the business. The process known as “Scrum” is often used to ensure that the marketing team is working toward goals that align with the needs of the larger organization.
(Image via AgileMarketing.Net)
For a more comprehensive account of some agile methods, check out this article from Jim Ewel.
Communication not only allows for better collaboration, but also ensures a consistent stream of input about what provides value to users (customers), what projects are feasible (marketing team), where the business is headed (owner), and even shared information about the state of the market (everyone). With all of this added information, teams are better equipped to make decisions about how to work smarter.
Transparent communication allows agile teams to increase the efficiency of their efforts by working only on the right projects. This, in turn, allows them to create higher-quality campaigns, and do so more quickly.
When agile marketing is at its best, you’ll see this ideal interaction between doing it fast, doing it right, and doing the right thing—the result is more, small campaigns that produce better results than older methods.
(Image via Wikipedia)
To sum things up, here are some of the reasons that you should consider moving to this marketing approach:
4 Reasons Agile Marketing Will Improve Your ROI
- You get information FAST to make small, but high-value improvements.
- You spend fewer resources upfront by taking smaller risks.
- You make your marketing effort more sustainable by reducing busy work.
- You will adapt more quickly and more easily to shifting markets.
Are you hoping to improve the speed and efficiency of your content marketing team? Let us help! By outsourcing your blog content, you can free up valuable time and work faster—and smarter—on the projects that matter the most.